Movies of swimming motility

Escherichia coli

Rhodobacter sphaeroides


Movies of swarming motility

Escherichia coli swarm

Salmonella typhmurium swarm

Serratia marcescens swarm

Movies of gliding motility


Mycoplasma mobile

Flavobacterium johnsoniae

Movies of Twitching motility

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Other movies

Tethered bacteria

Escherichia coli patterns

Carpets and microchannels

Miscellaneous movies

Marvels of Bacterial Behavior - History & Physics of Bacterial Motion

Rowland Institute         Harvard University

Escherichia coli patterns

When E. coli cells, chemotactic towards aspartate, are inoculated in a soft agar plate (0.2-0.3%) containing intermediates of the tricarboxylic acid cycle (e.g. fumarate or succinate), the cells move outward in a compact ring that eventually breaks up into spots. As the ring continues to expand, new spots form. Depending upon the concentration of the carbon source, they are in-line radially, hexagonally arrayed, or hexagonally arrayed with radial tails.

The movie starts about 3 h after inoculation soon after the first set of spots have appeared and continues for another 10 h. Note that cells leave one set of spots and move radially to rejoin the ring before the next set of spots form.

When the experiment is done in a liquid medium containing methylcellulose to suppress convection, beginning with cells that are uniformly distributed and then adding the carbon source, discrete aggregates form.


Pattern formation in agar

Pattern formation in liquid


Budrene, E.O. and Berg, H.C. Dynamics of formation of symetrical patterns by chemotactic bacteria. Nature 376, 49-53 (1995).

Berg, H.C. Symmetries in bacterial motility. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93, 14225-14228 (1996).

Mittal N, Budrene EO, Brenner MP, Van Oudenaarden A. Motility of Escherichia coli cells in clusters formed by chemotactic aggregation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Nov 11;100(23):13259-63.